Sprained thumb? why so long.
December 18, 2010 4:31 AM   Subscribe

Sprained thumb?- pain and stiffness won't go away. What could it be? Hopefully not a ruptured ligament.

Hi. I think I sprained my thumb doing sports about 5 weeks ago. My thumb basically took an impact that I think forced it forward.

It hurt obviously, and I couldn't move it.

It has got better in that the pain is not obvious most of the time, but it's stiff and I still don't have the full range of motion and it hurts when I try and flex or extend it to the maximum limit.

I haven't had a sprain that lasted anything like this long. From the web, apparently a ruptured ligament is a concern.

I know YANAD, but I want to do what I can myself to investigate before I go...especially if surgery is on the cards.

I know a lot about myofascial pain that can cause fake sprained ankles etc and I don't think this is that.
posted by Not Supplied to Health & Fitness (7 answers total)
I should add that what bothers me is that it doesn't seem to be gradually getting better. It's just on the same level.
posted by Not Supplied at 4:31 AM on December 18, 2010

5 weeks is nothing. (That's what my doctor told me when I complained about an injury to my index finger, only it wasn't 5 weeks, it was a few months.) Now, over a year later, I still have some stiffness but I have my range of motion and strength back. But enough about me. I obviously can't diagnose your situation, but there's no reason to assume the worst. In particular, "getting better" can take longer than you think.
posted by Obscure Reference at 5:34 AM on December 18, 2010

An impact injury on my thumb about six months ago has steadily improved to where, now, it's maybe 25% of what the damage was initially, as measured by pain and range of motion.
posted by StickyCarpet at 6:49 AM on December 18, 2010

I slightly tore a ligament in my thumb, a while ago. I got a brace for it and I think I was using it again after a couple of months. But it seemed for a long time like it wasn't healing.

A vet once told me to expect at least a month of recovery time for each letter in the word of the injured element: 4 for bone, 6 for muscle, 6 for tendon, 8 for ligament. That was for full, total recovery, before you could expect the same performance of the affected area as before, but you get the idea. Ligaments take a long, long time to heal fully.
posted by galadriel at 7:05 AM on December 18, 2010

Try this first: Hold out the hurt hand sideways so pinky down, thumb up. Put your thumb in the middle of your palm then make a fist around it. Move your wrist down.

Hopefully you have enough range of motion to do that.

If that hurts like a bitch, you probably messed up the ligament. I tore mine close to 2 years ago and it still bothers me sometimes and is easily re-injured.

In the mean time, stock up on advil or aleve (or any other NSAID), whichever makes you less sick, and pop it like candy to stop it from swelling.

I didn't find braces at all helpful. The student health center at my university fitted me for a hard brace that immobilized my wrist and thumb that went halfway up my forearm. That actually ended up giving me tendinitis in my forearm too. The soft brace I used that only covered my thumb and wrist made my thumb even more stiff and sore if I wore it.

Honestly, go to a doctor or a reputable hand specialist. That's my regret right now as I play piano quite seriously. I waited for about 6 weeks before even going to my university's shoddy student care center then another year before finding a hand doctor that was able to fix my hand, more or less. What did the trick for me was a month of Celebrex!
posted by astapasta24 at 7:38 AM on December 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

Hold out the hurt hand sideways so pinky down, thumb up. Put your thumb in the middle of your palm then make a fist around it. Move your wrist down.

I can do this without too much agony, so I'm thinking just leave it and see what happens.

I suppose I will have to go and see my GP though.

posted by Not Supplied at 9:32 AM on December 18, 2010

I feel your pain!

I sprained my thumb while swimming. (My hand hit the wall when I was too close.) Your symptoms sound pretty familiar. The girl at the pool said it would take about two weeks to heal. 3 YEARS later and it's finally 95% healed.

Go see your doctor, maybe they can do something for you and you won't have to suffer like I did ;)
posted by fallsauce at 11:38 AM on December 18, 2010

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